Friday, June 26, 2015

Come to My garden, My sister, My bride

Is BDS anti-Semitic? How do we protest Nazis in our midst? Today the queen lay a wreath at Bergen Belsen. Next week, Neo-Nazis will gather in Golders Green. The irony of exile: The queen of our country pays respect as her citizens continue their hate. Last week it was the BDS movement, next week it's others. Somehow we continue our lives as all this fuss gets made of us, a small nation wanting to live in peace. Some question the compartmentalising of our lives, accusing us of ignoring the signs; others will go out and fight; some will counter demonstrate. What is the correct reaction? In this week's Torah portion after peace-lover Aaron has passed away, there is a verse that has significant meaning. Here it is interpolated with the classic commentator Rashi and my assessment of the times in which we live. Torah: “The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the south, heard” Mendel: What did he hear? Rashi: He heard that Aaron had died and that the [protecting] clouds of glory had departed. Amalek was always a chastising whip for Israel, ready at any time to mete out punishment. Mendel: Yes, there are always haters, those that at any time will attempt to strike us. Aaron united the Jews that were not getting along; in his merit all were protected. They saw and attempted to seize vulnerability.
However, this needs clarification - the verse uses the term “Canaanites” when did the “Amalekites” arrive? Rashi: This refers to Amalek, as it says, “The Amalekites dwell in the south land”. They changed their language to speak in the language of Canaan so that the Israelites would pray to the Holy One, blessed is He, to deliver the Canaanites into their hands, and [since] they were not Canaanites [their prayers would have no effect]. But Israel saw that they were dressed like Amalekites though they spoke in a Canaanite tongue. So they said, “We will pray generally [for success],” as it says, “If You deliver his people into my hand….” Mendel: Sounds like the BDS, Hamas and Nazis parading through Golders Green. They all dress up in different attire, bothered by our very existence, and challenged by a spiritual element of our existence. They speak a different language but it is the same tone. What was the Jewish peoples response? To do exactly what they haters did not want. No they did not demonstrate, they did not make more noise they did not go to PR agencies and organise publicity through their newspapers. They prayed. A general prayer. A pure prayer. They united, not in fear of the hate, but for the blessing of Hashem. The police do their bit and of course the necessary Jewish bodies must do their bit, behind the scenes. But what is our front? What is the role of the everyday Jew? We must unite, we must Pray to the Holy one blessed is He. And we must remember: Torah: that Israel had come by the route of the spies (toward Israel), and he (the Amalekite) waged war against Israel and took from them a captive. Mendel: How many Jews did they take captive? Rashi: (Not even one) only a single maidservant. (The Israelites had captured from Amalek in their earlier encounter with them). Mendel: As always disproportion is about how one looks at the numbers and the effect. How many out of 64 million British people are gathering, how many of us will go? It is often a numbers game, and we must never fall for their fancy dress parties to try and outnumber them, We are less, but we are united, and we have a spiritual energy in the form of prayer, and the love as embodied by Aaron that unites us to our loving Father in heaven, that never leaves His flock may His cloud of glory protect us and redeem us.

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